Thursday, April 19, 2018

A brilliant Strategy


I found this gem posted on Facebook this weekend. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from parents is that they feel like they have little or no control, when it comes to their teen's electronic devices. Since teen's are wayyyyy more savvy and smart when it comes to tricks of the technology trade, this clever strategy does the trick. However it does mean that you will have to change your wifi password regularly,  when you feel taken advantage by, dissed or pissed by, or just would like your teen to follow through on something you deem to be important. Obviously they can go out of your house to get on wifi, but while they are at home this could be useful.

Also this works very well in tandem with more traditional parent controls on the market, especially to curb late night cell use. What has been a conundrum for parents is though they can, through verizon and other carrier parent controls, shut off the cellular use of their teen's phone, teen's just move on to wifi. This trick enables you to shut this option off as well, without having to physically shut off your modem, thereby having to shut down your own use as well. As keeper of the password, you are in the driver's seat. Now if you're like me, some of you may have no idea how to change your modem password. So clearly there maybe a bit of a learning curve!! Find a smart technology person to teach you how to do this....other than your teen!

Who knows if this really works, but isn't Facebook always right???

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's Not What You Say.....

I am sure that many of you could complete that sentence, hearing you parents or elderly aunt's voice in your head..."It's not what you say dear, but how you say it." When you heard it, it was probably because you had talked to your elders in a tone that was unacceptable.

I am sharing this saying with you not so you can teach it to your teens, but to teach to you.  Often as parents,  much of the "feedback" that we share with our teens is said either in a voice of authority as in " I know better than you squirt, so listen up," or in a voice full of exasperation as in "how many times do we have to go over this..," or in a voice full of judgement.."how could you have...." In all of these examples, most likely the response you get from your teen is to either ignore you, get defensive, or give you attitude. None of these pave the way for meaningful communication or closure.

As I have mentioned before, the emotional center of the teen brain is in overdrive most of the time, hence the roller-coaster of emotions you are likely to experience with them just in the course of a single day. Once that Amygdala is in activation and firing, it is pretty hard to shut it down. Think of a stove top burner that has been on high. Once you shut it off, it takes a good amount of time before you can touch it without being burned. Such is the Amygdala of the teenage brain. So one of the goals then, is to not get it activated, especially if you have an end goal in mind for a conversation you want to have with your teen.

If you blame your teen's over-reaction on biology, rather than on something they have much control over, it frees you up to not blame them, thereby avoiding the double whammy of the actual issue you are concerned over + the aforementioned over-reaction.  That is why arguing with your teen is so frustrating. Because you often never really get to discussing the core issue, too busy getting pissed at them for getting pissed at you.

So what to do. Listen to the sound of your own voice. Would this be THE voice that used to piss you off as a teen? If it is, can you work on saying it another way. Of course my suggestion is to use an "I get it" statement. Rather than starting with a lecture or accusation, think ahead of time of what might have motivated the particular behavior you are now needing to talk about with your teen.

For example:

FROM " Get off your damn phone and computer and finish your homework." TO; I get it's important for you to stay in touch with your friends, but we need to figure out a way for you to get work done, and stay in touch with your friends."

FROM: "If you talk to your brother again like that, I am taking away that damn video game. That kind of disrespect is unacceptable in our family." TO; I get how hard and annoying it is to have a younger brother who always wants to hang with you and use your stuff just when you want to use it. I know he pushes all your buttons, let's figure out a way for you to get your privacy."

FROM: "I am sick and tired of the absolute mess in your room, you are a slob and are disrespectful of the money we spend so that you can have all these nice clothes." TO: I get cleaning your room is absolutely the last thing on your mind. I know getting ready in the morning is stressful and finding the right outfit means trying on a bunch of stuff and just discarding what isn't right. We gotta figure out a better system."

At the least, you haven't antagonized your teen to shut down. You are showing him/her that you understand what might be going on, rather than just criticizing them yet again for not doing..x y z. Give it a try, you might be surprised at how well it works!



PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2015-16 year. Email me at joani@joanigeltman.com if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!!   Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Misunderstanding Of The Misunderstood

ZITS COMIC

Jeremy looking dejected and sad: " Nobody really gets me.
Mom, comforting arm around her son: "Oh honey, I get you!
Jeremy, looking even more dejected: "OK, that's even worse.

How many hundreds of times have you been in just this situation with your teen. Perhaps it's the Friday or Saturday night blues fest, when your teen is sitting at home, no plans in sight, no texts getting returned and feeling low, dejected and misunderstood. Or maybe, you notice that it is has been a fierce night of instagram and texting, and every time you walk by your teen's door they are flopped on the bed, staring off into space, and you just know that something has happened, some slight, some misunderstanding.

It is in these moments that the mama/papa bear or the lion/lioness comes out in you, and you get this powerful, primal urge to protect your baby cub from hurt. So you walk in with your sympathetic, loving, supportive arms and pronounce their friends are all a**holes (which was what I always did, and I admit was completely ineffective and backfired on me) and tell them when they get older they will find "real friends" who get them! Which may actually be true, but they do not want to hear that. The future is light years away, and has absolutely no meaning for them. And besides, it is these friends that they want and crave. No substitutions please. So when you go in and want to be that shoulder to cry on, and take pleasure in being that one person that gets them, it is in that moment for them that that is the kiss of death. The teen in them, the teen that is trying to be independent of you and that primal need of theirs to be love and accepted, will reject you. It is the acceptance of their peers that is the most important. Love and acceptance from mom and dad, not so much.

So when you see your teen with the "Jeremy" look, say a simple "bad night" huh, and leave it at that. If they look up to you with an invitation to talk, great, otherwise, as always, this too shall pass.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Sneaky Syndrome!

I got a wonderful e-mail recently from a parent who is struggling with "sneakiness" from her teenage son. Do I hear a chorus of "me too". This is a classic parent-teen struggle. You work hard to set reasonable rules, and your teen works just as hard to wrangle him/herself around them. Here is what this parent wrote: "I believe he senses me becoming "paranoid" and questioning things because I don't trust...and he then becomes sneakier. How do I break that cycle and how do you convey confidence and trust when they have broken that trust?"

Let's play this out. You make a rule. This mom had a rule about no food in the basement. She goes down the basement and finds cans and wrappers stashed behind furniture. This a relatively minor infraction but a great example of how these small things build up, create niggles of doubt, until full out distrust and paranoia develop. Fill in the blank here with the smaller rule breakers that your teen challenges you with. 

Here is your "I Get It" moment: "Hey honey, I just found (fill in the blank) wrappers and cans in the basement. Clearly you think this is a rule worth breaking. Give me an alternative. I'd rather we come up with something together, that we both can agree on, rather than you disagreeing with something and sneaking around to do what you want anyway." The work is always to encourage truth-telling. When you include your teen in the rule-making, at least you get them to have partial ownership of the problem. Here is how you can do this. Using the above example, 

Your teen will probably say: "its stupid that I can't eat downstairs where I hang out."

Parent says;" What do you think I am worried about when you ..........." 

In this case kid will say: "that I will trash the basement." 

Mom can say: "Yes that's right, so what will you do to assure me you won't trash the basement, and get rid of your trash."

 Now the owness is on the teen to come up with a plan that makes you happy.

Final question from parent: "What will the consequence be if you don't follow through on your plan."

The consequence is in place. If you aren't satisfied with the consequence your teen comes up with, offer one up yourself. Maybe in this case, you are banned from the basement for 24 hours if I find trash down there. 

As your kids get older, they will disagree with you more and more. Your choice is to set your rules, and watch your kids dance around them, or engage them in the process so they feel a part of the process. They want to manage their life, they are driven to manage their life, even if they don't do it well. It's called practice! It is up to you to give them opportunity to practice, by including them in the process. They will screw up. But I think it is less about trust, and more about temptation. Teen''s are impulsive, and don't think things through for very long. They need help in that department. So when you find the beer can in the basement, what you want is use that to open conversation. So rather than getting angry, and going with a "how can you betray my trust like this" You might say" I was surprised to find this beer. I know we don't have any in the house, so either you or one of your friends brought it in. What are you going to do to make me feel OK about being in the basement and sneaking in beer or booze.?" Again, using the words trust can be loaded. Teens are tempted by all the fun stuff teens want to do and try. They need your help to stay safe and trustworthy, not just your anger.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The juuling And Vaping Teen Trend Is Growing..Take Action Now!

I very rarely re-share a blog post that I posted a mere 4 months earlier. But the research about vaping juuling is starting to build up, two articles just his week in the New York Times, which I have linked to below. This is starting to feel a little to familiar to me as a member of the teenagers of the 60's who started their smoking career at 13 years old. Today's teens truly do not believe that vaping and juuling is dangerous. The research disagrees. This is a an issue parents need to jump on immediately! Don't just lecture, make sure you read these articles together. Research is harder to argue with than you telling them it's bad for them. I totally understand their attraction, it tastes good, it looks so cool, and it feeds into their need for risk-taking and "hide it from the parents" game teens like to play Impulsiveness is in the driver seat, but nicotine addiction is in the passenger seat ready to take over.

So here is the blog I wrote in November with this weeks NYtimes articles. Make this a family table read!!

 Juuling and vaping two more things teens do that parents didn't do as teens but have to know about!!! The article below does a great job of explaining what this is and how teens do it, so I won't be redundant, I'll let you read for yourself. But talk with your teen you must!!! This will be another example of something teens think is NO BIG DEAL!!! Juuling is wayyy more potent than smoking a cigarette. The nicotine is much stronger and more dangerous. It actually can give you a high!! It can also be used, along with a vape pen to smoke pot. Vaping is old school, but Juuling is new to me too and I work with parents all the time. It look like a zip drive so your teen may be using it and you think they just have a bunch of new zip drives, being so responsible and saving all their school reports. NOPE

Why do kids juul: To look cool, just like you wanted to do when you smoked your first cigarette, to get a buzz, and maybe to to hide smoking pot. Many kids are buying these on-line since you have to be 18, but I have heard from parents that they are pretty easy to get in local convenience stores who see a new source of revenue now that not many people are smoking ciggies these days. Sooooo if your teen seems to be going through more cash than usual, you might want to check for vape pens and juuls.

Read this article aloud to your teens. Understand using an " I Get It" statement: "I get that kids don't think that this is any big deal, and that it is kind a fun to do. Who doesn't like to do something a little sneaky and bad, I know I did when i was a teen. But this is much more dangerous than you might think, and I know that kids are also using these to smoke pot which though legal is not safe for a growing brain. Tell me what you think about it?"

Remember,  start talking with a tone in your voice that communicates understanding and interest in their point of view. If you come in with a lecture, you'll go out with an eye roll and a shut down teen!


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/02/health/vaping-ecigarettes-addiction-teen.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-newshttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/opinion/formaldehyde-diacetyl-e-cigs.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region


If any of you live in the metro west area, please join me on April 11th at Wellesley Books @7 PM as I interview friend, author, Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein about her new book
Can't Help Myself.  I just read it last night and it is an extraordinary book. As Meredith talks about her life as a single woman, caring for her mom after her diagnosis and death from cancer, and what it's like to give advice when you own live feels less than perfect. It is hilarious and laugh out loud funny, and sad and real when life sucks! Meredith is warm and authentic and so brave to share her life with us. If you are a daughter, a mother,  a dad, a friend, divorced, married, single, pretty much everyone will relate. We'll have wine and cheese and have a great hang. Come join us!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Answering The Curfew Questions!

Here is a Q&A I did recently about curfews. Enjoy!!!

What are some behaviors a parent should look for before deciding their young teen is ready for a curfew?

As long as parents are in the driver seat, literally, there is no need for a curfew. When your teen has started to do the “walk and hangs” sans parental supervision, It’s time for a curfew.

Why do teens need curfews?

Teens live in the present. Wherever and whatever they’re doing in the moment causes them to lose track of time. They are not thinking: “oh I need to get home to do my homework, or my chores, or for dinner with the fam!” They need help in setting limits, and help in taking responsibility for their time. For some teens, this comes naturally, for most teens it does not. 

What are the benefits of a curfew -- for the teen and for the parent?

Curfews can keep teens safe. Too much time out with no time boundaries can put teens in riskier situations. Knowing that there is an end to an evening makes teens more aware of their behavior, and may help they to say no to situations that involve risky behaviors. For parents they are teaching their kids the concept of accountability. This is a life skill and one that will be important as they move into adulthood. 

What’s the best way for a parent to go about instituting or establishing a curfew?

This absolutely should be a joint venture between the parent and the teen. Curfews handed down from “parent on high” have the potential for “curfew abuse” This happens when a parents sets an unreasonably early curfew, which the teen is then driven to manipulate. For example if there is an 11 PM curfew which a teen feels is unfair, the parents will get a call at 10:59 PM with a fantastically wonderful excuse from their teen why they can’t be home at 11 PM. Parent gives in and says, fine be home by 11:45 PM. Teen has just learned a bad lesson; my parents can be manipulated, and I can get what I want. If instead the parent had said to the teen, “what time do you think will work for you tonight.” The teen would probably say 11:30 ish. Parents can than say “fine, and what will be the consequence if you are late?” Because the teen has had a say, they are much more likely to take ownership of the curfew and come in on time. 

How long should a child have a curfew before a parent considers making it later?

I am not a fan of a rigid set curfew time. I don’t see it as an age question. I think that curfews do depend on what the activity is. I think curfew setting should be a fluid process. If for example a teen is going to hang at a friends house or going to a party, maybe an earlier curfew. If going to a concert or a movie, it may be a later one. 

What’s the best way for a parent to handle it when their teen breaks curfew? See below

What’s a parent to do when their teen chooses to ignore/disregard the curfew?
If a parent has used the process I described above by including the teen in curfew and consequence setting it makes this issue very clear and easy. The teen would have already decided what his consequence would be if he was late. This way when this teen screws up all a parent has to say is “sorry this didn’t work out for you, I guess we’ll be hanging next Friday night together.”



When a teen does ignore or disregard, obviously there would be a consequence of not going out one night the next weekend or docking time. But more importantly parents should work with their teen on strategies to be “curfew successful” There should be a conversation on what would help them the next time. Maybe they did lose track of time, and just were having too much fun to leave. In this case, maybe suggesting to their teen they set some kind of alarm on their phone that gives them a heads-up on the time. Or another strategy is that parents can give teens an hour window to call them for a curfew change. Perhaps a teens curfew is at 11:30. Parents may say if you call me by 10:30 for an extension I will consider it. But anytime after that will always be a NO. Again this makes teens take responsibility for time management. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Denial...A Teenagers Best Friend

"What, it wasn't me!" "It isn't mine!" "I don't know how it could have gotten there!" I didn't know what time it was, my phone died! I didn't know the parents weren't going to be home! You never said I had to be home at 11!!! "Famous last words of teens. A great way for teens to avoid taking responsibility, and a sure fire way to frustrate parents to the point of apoplexy!

The truth is your teen is not at all motivated to take responsibility, cause if they did they either wouldn't have done it in the first place, or they would have owned up and paid the price. Also, they absolutely do not care that their shoes are strewn all around the house...except when they can't find them, then of course it becomes your fault: "Where are my shoes? What did you do with them," they scream at their loudest decibel. Because of course, it is one minute before their ride is coming to get them, and they did not think about these shoes, jacket, etc until just that minute, and now that they are missing they obviously can't blame themselves, so you're up!

My best advice, don't bite!!! There is nothing you need to say, nothing you need to do, it is not your job to keep track of their things. Sometime, they will figure it out, but your lecture of "if you only put your things in their rightful place this would not happen every single god damn day!!"will definitely not change their behavior. Either they'll figure it out themselves or they won't. And eventually they will move out, and you will never have to deal with it again. Make yourself unavailable for the search and rescue. And when their crap is in your way, have a basket for each of your teens in which any stray item that is making you crazy gets thrown. Think of it as your family's lost and found. If they can't find something, they can always take a gander at the lost and found and see what's there. It will be like Christmas every day!

And for those moments when you know that the excuses are free wheeling and obviously have no bearing on the truth, no need to lecture and yell, a shoulder shrug, a consequence, and I hope things work out for you the next time!